Joint Committee On Human Rights Written Evidence

29.Submission from Reverend David Horton

  I am an Anglican clergyman from the Evangelical tradition who has been in contact with the transgender community since 1987. As a result I have had many contacts with transsexual people and thus in their hopes and fears with regard to the restoration of their human rights. Accordingly I wish to congratulate those concerned in drafting this Bill for the quality of their research and understanding.

  Many of the transgendered people with whom I am and have been involved are Christian believers. As a result a significant minority of those involved have managed to retain a relationship with their spouse. I am greatly concerned that to require divorce as a condition of full recognition is unfair to such relationships. In particular to the non-transitioning partner who has made such sacrifices it seems very harsh to insist on this condition. There may be financial and certainly emotional penalties to add to the many problems they have managed to overcome. Obviously theirs is a unique situation but it is hard to envisage another medical condition where such a condition could be imposed without enormous public hostility. By my own Christian belief, for the state to compulsorily break up a family or couple is something to be avoided both for its own sake and also for the precedent it might be considered to provide.

  Can I therefore suggest that divorce not be mandatory, but one of the factors taken into account by the panel in issuing the full revised documentation. Although perhaps 20 per cent of my clients have survived in a relationship, the overall numbers are a small minority of a small minority, and I would hope that as with transsexual people themselves our society is sufficiently compassionate to accommodate the aspirations of this minority, whose own compassion and support is very praiseworthy.

9 September 2003

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